RE: Looking for classes in indexing

Subject: RE: Looking for classes in indexing
From: "Wright, Lynne" <Lynne -dot- Wright -at- Kronos -dot- com>
To: Slager Timothy J <Timothy -dot- Slager -at- dematic -dot- com>, "mbaker -at- analecta -dot- com" <mbaker -at- analecta -dot- com>, "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 26 Jul 2018 21:12:46 +0000

Can you elaborate on how indexing is a good way to review your work?

The docs I used to index were several hundred pages long; it used to take me DAYS to compile a properly edited index for them. That's a lot of time to spend if you're not actually going to use that index; and I can't think of any occasion where it helped me improve the actual content or structure or anything.

-----Original Message-----
From: techwr-l-bounces+lynne -dot- wright=kronos -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com <techwr-l-bounces+lynne -dot- wright=kronos -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com> On Behalf Of Slager Timothy J
Sent: Thursday, July 26, 2018 4:52 PM
To: mbaker -at- analecta -dot- com; techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: RE: Looking for classes in indexing

A search engine is an index. In a different form. If you are tagging and adding synonyms, you are indexing. I'm all for new formats, but it is still indexing (pointing to information).

A side advantage to an index is that it is an excellent way to review your work (or someone else's). The benefits here make it worthwhile even if you don't publish the index.

My 2p. tims

-----Original Message-----
From: techwr-l-bounces+timothy -dot- slager=dematic -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com [mailto:techwr-l-bounces+timothy -dot- slager=dematic -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On Behalf Of mbaker -at- analecta -dot- com
Sent: Wednesday, July 25, 2018 7:20 PM
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: RE: Looking for classes in indexing

I'm old too, but let's face it, indexes are the paper substitute for a search engine. Anything an index can do, a decent search engine can do better (yes, including synonyms). More to the point, even the old are so habituated to search now that the only way they are going to stumble into your index is if it shows up in a search results.

Unless, of course, they actually are reading on paper, because then the index is the poor man's search engine, and in that case it better be good, because it has a lot to live up to.

And if there are those out there that still want to claim that indexes are better than search engines, here is the clincher: An index only works when you have a the right book in your hand. Which means you have to find the book before you can use the index. But a search engine searches everything.
The reader does not have to locate the book first. Indeed, they probably never know which "book" their results came from. They live in a world of pages, not books, and they find pages using search. Every Page is Page One.

If I was looking for a course to take in this day an age, I would take SEO before I took indexing. Unless, of course, I was actually preparing a book for publication on paper. (Which, as it happens, I am: Structured Writing:
Rhetoric and Process, real soon now from XML press. I think it has a pretty good index, most of which is Richard Hamilton's doing.)

Mark

> -----Original Message-----
> From: techwr-l-bounces+mbaker=analecta -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com <techwr-
> l-bounces+mbaker=analecta -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com> On Behalf Of Guy
> l-bounces+Ball
> Sent: Wednesday, July 25, 2018 6:40 PM
> To: 'TECHWR-L' <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
> Subject: RE: Looking for classes in indexing
>
> As Lynne noted, you really need to determine if an index makes sense
> for
the
> documentation you're creating - particularly if your audience has
> moved
into
> a modern mode of just "searching" for subject matter.
>
> We did away with indexes because we always delivered as a pdf file and
> found that our customer base generally does a simple "find" to quickly
locate
> what
> they wanted. (I sometimes wonder if they even care about TOCs
> anymore.) By doing away with indexes, we saved many hours (days in
> most cases) for a tech staff that was already too small and overworked
> to handle our
existing
> workload.
>
> I would recommend classes in Frame, some illustrator tool (your
> choice),
or
> some online tool you might think about moving to.
>
> (And before I get "hate mail" from indexers and other writers who love
> them, know that I love indexes myself when reading a particularly
technical
> manual. But I'm also "old" and like reading a paper newspaper every
> morning.)
>
> Guy
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: techwr-l-bounces+mrcalc=pacbell -dot- net -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> [mailto:techwr-l-bounces+mrcalc=pacbell -dot- net -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On
> Behalf Of Wright, Lynne
> Sent: Wednesday, July 25, 2018 9:45 AM
> To: Lin Sims <ljsims -dot- ml -at- gmail -dot- com>; TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-
> l.com>
> Subject: RE: Looking for classes in indexing
>
> Aside from being able to maintain a high level of fussiness and focus
> for
as
> long as it takes to build, then refine refine refine an index, the key
> to
creating
> effective indexes is being able to figure out what super-succinct
> terms/keywords, and alternates for those terms, that users are most
> likely
to
> look for when they consult an index, and avoiding redundancies. I'm
> not
sure
> that that's something that can be taught in a one-size-fits-all class,
since it
> comes down to how well you know the product you are documenting/what
> search terms are important enough to include, and how well you can
> intuit how your end users think.
>
> So I'd be curious to hear from people who have actually taken indexing
> courses, with regards to whether they found those courses particularly
> useful. Once you know how to add index markers with whatever tool
> you're using, and what syntaxes to use when entering index entries,
> what else do those courses cover?
>
> You may benefit more by creating an index or two, then running them
> past an experienced indexer who can edit/give you feedback on what to
> change, until you start getting the hang of what works/what doesn't.
>
> Keep in mind that as documentation moves more and more into electronic
> and web-based output, users probably rely more on search functions
> than indexes.
> It's the same concept, in that it comes down to figuring out optimal
keyword
> tags; but my point is, you may want to look for a course that is less
focused
> on old-school print-doc indexes, and more on search optimization for
> electronic content.
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: techwr-l-bounces+lynne -dot- wright=kronos -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> <techwr-l-bounces+lynne -dot- wright=kronos -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com> On
> Behalf Of Lin Sims
> Sent: Wednesday, July 25, 2018 11:51 AM
> To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
> Subject: Looking for classes in indexing
>
> My employer has decided that everyone in the company should be able to
> get job-related training, and me and my fellow tech writer have been
> told
to
> find something to learn. Since indexes are something we're supposed to
> do and neither of us has experience with it, I thought that might be a
> good
skill
> to learn and I'm hoping for recommendations.
>
> I've got a couple of books on indexing (Larry Bonura's The Art of
> Indexing and Kurt Ament's Indexing: A Nuts-and-Bolts Guide for
> Technical Writers), but I think as rank newbies we would benefit from some actual classes.
>
> I am not really interested in joining the ASI just to get access to
> what
appears
> to be an excellent set of webinars; indexing is an adjunct to our job,
> not
its
> focus. (Annoyingly, the Google blip says that STC members can get it
> at a discount, but I've found no way for STC members who are not ASI
> members to get the course.)
>
> The STC doesn't appear to be running its 2-day "Indexing Skills for
Technical
> Communicators" indexing course anytime soon, either.
>
> So, any recommendations? There's only two of us, so having someone
> come in to train is probably too expensive (small company, you know?).
>
> --
> Lin Sims
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Follow-Ups:

References:
Looking for classes in indexing: From: Lin Sims
RE: Looking for classes in indexing: From: Wright, Lynne
RE: Looking for classes in indexing: From: Guy Ball
RE: Looking for classes in indexing: From: mbaker
RE: Looking for classes in indexing: From: Slager Timothy J

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